While Congressional Democrats seek to reignite the desire to rapidly accomplish meaningful health reform by invoking Sen. Kennedy’s name and passion for the subject, and while the struggle to determine who will carry the leadership torch for health care in the Senate continues, many Republicans also involved in the reform initiatives both acknowledge the loss of his consensus building role and urge negotiations with meaningful concessions by Democrats in order for progress to be made when Congress returns after the summer recess. Both parties have expressed uncertainty that they will be able to accomplish the type of consensus agreements that Sen. Kennedy was particularly skilled at negotiating, including his ability to cool-down acrimonious debate and bring the disparate interests back to the conference table.

While President Obama is attempting to rebuild grassroots support for health care reform, the troubling Town Hall meetings across the country and the loss of Sen. Kennedy are widely perceived as significantly changing the momentum from a nearcertain vote on a major overhaul of the health care system by the end of September to the need to further address detailed questions on component parts of the reform package that may result in no meaningful action prior to the November 2010 elections. Kennedy’s absence will be keenly felt among the Democratic Congress as they struggle to determine the effect that a vote for health reform will have on the electorate in November 2010, and on Republicans who are trying to outline acceptable areas for mandated changes in the way health care is paid for and delivered.